Last year, President Obama laid out a Climate Action Plan to cut the carbon pollution fueling climate change, build a more resilient nation, and lead the global climate fight. As the world comes together in New York compelled by the urgent need to act on climate, I’m proud to join President Obama to reinforce our commitment.
This past year brought tons of progress, including EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan to limit carbon pollution from our largest source—power plants.
This week, I’ll be helping deliver a clear message: a world-leading economy depends on a healthy environment and a safe climate. EPA’s job is to protect public health. More health risks mean more costs for all of us. We don’t act despite the economy; we act because of it.
Today, I’m talking to government leaders and health organizations from around the world on how climate action helps reduce global health risks. On Tuesday, I’ll be meeting with CEOs from some of the world’s biggest businesses, to thank them for the climate action they’re already taking, and to discuss ways to do more. And later this week, I’ll be speaking at Resources for the Future in D.C. to lay out how a strong economy depends on climate action.
We know that climate change supercharges risks to our health and our economy. OMB Director Shaun Donovan spoke last week on how the costs of extreme weather, especially in America’s coastal cities, are expected in increase by billions of dollars. And we’re going to hear from Treasury Secretary Jack Lew later today on the “Economic Costs of Climate Change”—and the high price of inaction to American businesses and taxpayers.
The good news is, we can turn our climate challenge into an opportunity to build a low-carbon economy that will drive growth for decades to come.
A perfect example of smart climate action is EPA’s historic fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks. They’re cutting carbon pollution, saving families money at the pump, and fueling a resurgent auto industry that’s added more than 250,000 jobs since 2009. The number of cars coming off American assembly lines made by American workers just reached its highest level in 12 years. And let’s not forget—since President Obama took office, the U.S. uses three times more wind power and ten times more solar power, which means thousands of jobs.
EPA’s Clean Power Plan follows that trend. We’ve already received great feedback on our proposal, with more than 750,000 comments from health groups, industry groups, faith groups, parents and more. We want every good idea we can get, so we extended the public comment period through December 1st.
It’s true that climate change needs a global solution. We can’t act for other nations—but when the United States of America leads, other nations follow. Action to reduce pollution doesn’t dull our competitive edge—it sharpens it. If you want to talk return on investment: over the last four decades, EPA has cut air pollution by 70 percent while the U.S. economy has tripled in size.
Today we have more cars, more people, more jobs, more businesses, and less pollution. We can—and must—lead on climate. And being in New York this week, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of citizens calling for climate action, it’s clear to see that the American people overwhelmingly agree. When we act on climate, we seize an opportunity to retool and resurge with new technologies, new industries, and new jobs. We owe it to our kids to leave them a healthier, safer, and opportunity-rich world for generations to come.